When I think about it, I have always had goals for my cycling career and things I wanted to achieve. I remember during my first interview, I was asked what my long-term goals were. I must have only been 15, but I vividly remember having no second thoughts about it: Worlds, Olympics, and World Tour. I also wanted to achieve these goals while obtaining a college degree. These are hefty goals for a 15-year-old, but why not dream big? To me, goals are motivation to work hard, day in and day out.
Around the beginning of December each year, I usually look at what races I will be doing for the next season and figure out what my calendar is going to look like. After that, I set goals for the coming year. Typically, I need to revise my goals and the steps to obtain them a couple of times, because I get too excited and write down some unachievable or conflicting goals. The reason why I set goals at the beginning of December is because I will be coming off my off-season and am just beginning to ride base miles. This means I have ample time to both reflect on the year’s events, as well as plan and strategize for the future. My motivation is high at this point, and I am ready to take on the world it seems.
Setting goals and coming up with a plan to achieve them is something I would recommend everyone try. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it can be fun and rewarding. The steps: 1) figure out what you do well in and what your weaknesses are that need some improvement (yes, even those that you hate to admit out loud). 2) Combine this information with your goals for racing for the upcoming season and come up with a step-by-step plan to get to those goals. Remember to include some “just-for-fun” goals, as well as some downtime on your plan to achieving your goals. Make sure the steps are small enough, achievable (although they may not seem like it at that exact moment in time), and are logically sequenced to get to the result that you have set for yourself. Keep your goals and plan available so that you can refer to it on your journey. Mark-off what you have accomplished and date it; this makes for something to look back on and see what you accomplished and may give you some motivation chasing another goal. You can work on this by yourself or with others, but make sure you will be able to enjoy what you are trying to achieve. Change things up when necessary to keep your motivation high. Personally, having goals helps me stay focused throughout a long season.
Setting goals allows me to keep everything in perspective and not beat myself up when things don’t go well during training or a specific race. I’m able to look back at my plan and see where I have come from and what I still need to do to reach my goals. Cycling is a sport that is driven by results and performances: winning a race, setting a teammate up to win, increasing your power, improving your technical skills, etc. these are all tangible things when you have a logical approach to obtain them. Develop a plan to reach your goals that is achievable but also challenges and pushes you to be better. Bottom line: Take a couple of minutes and think about some goals you want to achieve that motivate you and help you stay focused as you pursue your dreams.
I hope you enjoyed reading my first blog, I’m currently in Berlin to represent USA Cycling at the Track World Championships, and I’ll be racing in the Madison. I’ll be back next month with a new blog, Megan Jastrab.